League of Dragons by Naomi Novik
So this book is largely about a gentleman officer and his divine-roaring dragon colleague-pet. I haven’t read any of the previous books in this series. And starting with the last book is indeed a little ass-backward. No good excuses for that, I’m afraid.
The issue of what the dragons eat is dealt with relatively delicately. A few war-time complaints about too many frozen horses and later some feasts in aid of promoting interdragon-cohesion. They certainly seem happiest when well fed. But no people eating (wot!) or indeed bloodthirsty slaying of any kind – its all a bit more gentlemanly than that.
The book more or less boils down to the question ‘what do you do with your dragon after the Napoleonic War has ended?’ Or perhaps, how do dragons and people best co-exist? Maybe some of the little light dragons might earn their keep doing courier service – dmail? A few might go into politics to politic for dragon rights – they seem to prefer left over right wing politics. But the really big ones – like the star Temeraire – do need to eat *a lot* of red meat. And it seems unclear to the author whether they really have any uses in food production. Can a dragon help raise its prey for a year or more before eating it, or would it just be tempted to pounce straight on it?
Eating issues aside, the book is sorta okay for an end of series effort. It works as alternative fantasy world. And who wouldn’t want to keep a fire-breathing divine roaring pet dragon?
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
This one has some nice ideas, but they feel a little undercooked. Should probably look to see if she’s written anything longer.
Runner. A short story about a long run by Lizzy Hawker
Every once in a while a book makes a deeper impact. This one is written by Dr Lizzy Hawker. She was a scientist at my institute when I started. I was tangentially aware that she was running ultra-marathons around that time – 2007 perhaps. But I did not know her.
The last third of this book is not well written. But this does not matter! Read it anyway. It is extraordinarily uplifting to read Lizzy writing about her running, and indirectly about her confidence to choose and forge her own entirely unique path in the world.
Dr Hawker is fortunate in that she has the physiology necessary to train for and complete so many ultra-marathons. My knee joints will not even stand the training necessary for a single marathon- I cannot hardly contemplate what it is to run for 60+ hours. But anyway, the point is not only is the majority of this little book brilliantly written, I just love how she went about her business. Frankly, her whole life is inspirational.
Perhaps a part of this book’s appeal (to me) is the small intersection of my life with Lizzy’s in 2006/7: the tiniest degree of familiarity with her, and yet really knowing almost nothing of what she actually did – and achieved. Anyway, did I mention that you should read it? (Go on go on go on… : -)
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
From reading this I think perhaps it is best not to write books in conjunction with TV series. Maybe read American Gods instead of Neverwhere? Or
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
‘Fessing: I lost this book half way through. This is unfortunate, because it seems rather good. Before I lost it however… the Spider-God Anansi has died, and his godhood has been split between his two sons: the uncool one and the cool godlike one. The original Anansi had the ability to pull any woman, despite being not-so-young-and-attractive. Charm, crinkly blue eyes, and the ability to persuade people to his will (and perhaps being a god :-?) seemed to do the trick. And the fact that he had all the best stories + the energy to use them to his advantage.
Anyhows, the cool (but rather unempathetic) one has come into the uncool one’s life, nicked his room, f**ked his finance, and generally messed around his life. The uncool one has gone to seek help. How will it all pan out? And more to the point am I really gonna have to buy another copy coz I just cant find my book? Stay tuned! A cliff hanger. Exciting, eh?